Bruins Buying In
BOSTON, MA - Torey Krug fired in a wrister with 9.4 on the clock to cap off a 5-1 win for the Bruins over Carolina on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.
Cam Ward two-handed his stick on the cross bar in frustration.
Boston had put up a three-goal third period. They got commitment - and got rewarded - until the final buzzer.
The Black & Gold are now an eight-game winning streak, spanning back to March 2. It marks their longest since a ten-game stretch in November of 2011. And there was no sign coming from their locker room that there would be any letting up.
"I think you just go out on a nightly basis, you’re trying to fine-tune your game," said Krug. "I’m not worried about it because we have leaders in here that will take care of that when the time comes."
"We’re playing good hockey. We’re still fine-tuning some things. Defensively, we’re playing well right now. Our goalies are unbelievable, as usual. We’re scoring goals, everything’s coming together well."
'How do you not get complacent?' I had asked Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien heading into this game.
"Easy," he said responded. "You don't look at it that way - and we don't. We haven't even talked about that. We just talk about game by game, and it just seems to give us a better feeling and a better focus. So that’s the way you don’t get content or comfortable and you keep plugging away."
While we've been encountering a happy locker room game after game throughout the past two weeks, the attitude somehow stays on an even keel as well.
"We’re playing well we’re playing hard I think we’re doing a lot of good things here but we just got to stay the course here," said Julien.
The Bruins have been getting out to solid starts, holding and extending leads. They've had four lines going and the "three top lines" that Julien often references have all been contributing on the score sheet. Their defensive layers have been in place all over the ice, though cutting down on breakaways is still an area where they would like to improve.
On Saturday, Milan Lucic gave Boston a 1-0 lead just 4:32 into the game, buying a pass from David Krejci as the center was getting tripped down. The Bruins outshot Carolina 16-9 in the first period and 41-30 overall.
"I think when we get a good start, it’s nice to know the guys are sharp and we’re all sort of into the game, and hitting bodies and throwing pucks on net and blocking shots – you know, just doing all the little things," said goaltender Chad Johnson, who made 29 saves and remains undefeated at TD Garden this season.
"I think for a goalie, it’s always nice to see that and comforting knowing the guys are ready to go. We’ve just been playing really well lately, and getting good results, and just want to try to keep this going."
"You know, it seems like we’re playing at our highest level throughout the season so far and it seems to have gotten better since the start of February," said Lucic, who recorded a three-point game, scoring his 21st goal of the season and assisted on two tallies from Jarome Iginla.
"We’ve just got to not get too high, not get too low and stay even keeled and just stay focused on what we need to do to keep our game sharp, and the coaching staff has done a good job of keeping us energized and giving us our rest when we need it. We’re just having fun looking forward to every game that’s ahead of us."
Most of the Bruins had stayed off the ice on Friday, with only a handful hitting the ice for an optional skate at the team's practice rink, Ristuccia Arena. But that didn't mean the atmosphere and compete level wasn't just as high, as it's remained day in and day out during this stretch.
Even Matt Lindblad, who stepped in and made his NHL debut against the Hurricanes as the Bruins prep their depth for the playoff run, could notice that.
"You can definitely tell that guys are confident and times are good right now," he said. "But, with that said, it’s definitely a playoff like atmosphere in there. And guys are - even in skate [on Friday] - it was optional but guys that were out there were still skating hard. You get that sense in the locker room that they know every game counts and every game means something."
It's a hungry group, that knows what mode they need to be in by the time the postseason comes around.
"After games, you've got to feel good about yourself and if you go out there, you work hard, you play well, you get that feeling - it’s a habit that gets created in our dressing room and it’s served us well," said Julien. "Like I said, every team has a different approach and for us it’s living in the moment, not in the future and not in the past."
So, who keeps every member of the Black & Gold on that same path?
"I think we've got a great leadership group and a coaching staff that makes us accountable and they expect a lot out of us," said Brad Marchand. "And I think that’s why we push really hard, where nothing is accepted other than a win and a really good game."
"Right now, it just seems like it’s at a point where everyone’s buying in and we’re doing it at the right time. We’re getting close to the playoffs and you need everyone to buy in and play their role going into playoff time."
"I think we just have the right attitude in here and we’ve been built that way and everyone’s buying in."